POLICY LAUNCH: Greens plan for circular economy


Too much unnecessary waste is polluting our oceans and ending up in landfill while Australians are missing out on jobs because this government has refused to take simple actions to build a circular economy.

Transitioning to a circular economy could generate $175 billion in direct benefit to the economy and save 16.7 million tonnes of CO2 in Australia by 2040. 

The Greens plan for building a circular economy by 2030 will help avoid waste in the first place, work to prevent it ending up in landfill or our oceans, while creating thousands of research, manufacturing, waste and recycling jobs.

Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson for Waste and Recycling, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson:

“Much of what is currently considered ‘waste’ is actually a valuable resource disposed of incorrectly, and anything else is a design flaw - but this problem has a political solution. 

“Recent waste export bans imposed on Australia by foreign countries have forced us to be self-sufficient when managing our waste and recycling, creating a perfect opportunity to revolutionise our nation’s waste and recycling system.

“Governments, industry and communities must come together and build a true circular economy where waste no longer exists because all necessary production has value and stays in a closed-loop system.

“While the Morrison Government talks a big game on tackling plastic pollution and waste, the reality is it has deliberately avoided taking the most basic and important steps to get the job done. 

“The Government has dragged the chain because of its close ties to powerful corporations who have consistently lobbied against regulations to move us towards zero waste. This is despite Australia’s waste and recycling industry consistently calling for more Government leadership and bold action to build a circular economy.

“Less than a third of Australians have access to commercial composting for their waste. A flagship component of the Greens plan for a circular economy includes funding $1bn into a nationwide compostable processing scheme. 

“Compostable packaging is currently fraught with greenwash and is causing a growing headache for the recycling industry, with much of the goodwill surrounding it literally wasted because Australia lacks necessary education, regulations, collection processes and commercial composting facilities.

“Australia’s leading bioplastics manufacturer (BioPak) lists only 20 facilities around the nation that are about to accept their packaging for commercial composting. These products are often chosen by businesses and consumers as an environmentally-friendly take away packaging, but Australians would be shocked to know these products often merely end up as expensive landfill. 

“Building industrial compostable facilities is just one of the ways the Greens will reduce waste, create jobs in new industries, and slash emissions in our plan to build a circular economy.

“The Greens have led the policy debate in parliament and worked closely with the community and the recycling industry to tackle our waste crisis over many years - and we won’t be taking a backward step in the 47th parliament.”

The Greens will:

  • Provide $1bn for a nationwide compostable processing scheme, supporting local councils to build industrial compostable facilities
  • Legislate a national approach to phasing out key single-use plastics by 2025
  • Legislate a national approach to container deposit schemes
  • Support a Global Plastic Treaty
  • Mandate national packaging targets in law 
  • Invest $500 million over five years into infrastructure and programs to reboot recycling
  • Invest $50 million in waste avoidance and reduction research
  • Ban industrial incineration of solid waste
  • Support the Right to Repair to minimise e-waste